Posts Tagged ‘topics’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  My first morning as a swamper along with my fellow swamper, David Sussex went without incident.  In the time we await the food I got to know him a little bit.  He proclaims himself a born again Christian, as I consider myself, and I’ve seen no reason to doubt him.  He is very vocal about his faith here while I am, as with everything else I do here, am very quiet.  Every morning he is out there reading his Bible just as I do.  If he irritates me in some fashion, its probably his desire to engage me in conversation about what I’m reading and start “preaching” about anything I might share that I struggle with.  But that probably says more about me than him!  As our ERP group got started that morning our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, took the topics from the resumes and interviews to the in-depth topic of relationships.  She handed out another workbook from The Change Companies designed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons that we had used early in group called Living With Others, and another packet from Earnie Larson.  We have used his materials before as well.  We spent the morning on an exercise where we identified the feelings connected to dating through marriage.  She then erased the words “first date” and replaced it with “addiction” and it followed pretty closely.  Pretty clever.  In the afternoon we watched the first four parts of video From the Inside Out from Hazeldon featuring Earnie Larson.  It’s actually quite good.  The first part got into why relationships are important. It looked at positive and negative relationships in our past lives, the different types of relationships, how love has been taught to us in the past, and principles of building good relationships.  I had difficulty sharing details of what my past impressions of love were like early on and solidified as the years went on.  But everyone knows me now and aren’t shocked by my answers anymore.  Even if they were, I decided long ago I was going to be honest.  I’m also grateful no one calls me a liar here as others have in the past, such as the psychiatrist at my court proceedings did and others did as I was growing up into adulthood.  I’m now able to document most details of my past thanks to my contact with my biological family.  After group ended at 4 pm, we had another fill in guard as they still haven’t yet replaced Ruth Barthowski, named Larry Cable.  Due to differing rules with different guards, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved.  Following customs set by pervious officers or what is considered normal.  But it was pretty clear while Sussex and I waited for the dinner trays he was going to be anything but predictable.  Its customary for inmates to go out in the hall in front of the cell to fart if necessary as a courtesy to their cellies.  However; Cable yelled at cellie Corey Ball for doing so.  Then he had us swampers walk around and make sure cell doors were closed.  Again, not normally done.  Cable then tried to micromanage how many extra trays we’d get and how many we’d try to send away.  Ok, I don’t care.  But then the extra tray I did get I took to my table and gave away all of its contents to the guys sitting there.  Cable said I couldn’t give the extra food away, that it was only for me, even though the rule book clearly says I can.  Problem is technically swampers aren’t supposed to get extra food at all.  So the rulebook doesn’t help either of us.  So as he is yelling at me in front of everyone, he announces he won’t allow extra trays when he works here anymore.  Others would later tell me that I should have quit right there.  But I didn’t.  I was mad though. I would return later before 6 pm count and ask him not to hold the whole unit responsible for something I didn’t know was his rule.  Finally he said he’d consider it.  It was uncomfortable at cleanup before 9:15 pm count.  But I’m just grateful he won’t be here often.  Being a swamper is fine but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy to do it. 

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I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I got up at 4am after a night filled with a series of odd dreams but the theme seemed to be the fear that even if I do everything I can to get my life back things out of my control will stop me.  I remember feeling desperation as I confronted each problem and had no power.  Breakfast was 2 hard boiled eggs and cocoa puffs.  I went back to bed.  I always sleep better the second time around.  I awoke this time to Lt. Brodie yelling at us yelling at us to remain in our bunks as we had in the shakedown the previous week.  He also told us it was a training exercise, but it wouldn’t take nearly as long as it did last week.  Everyone got up and started to repeat the routine from the previous week of throwing out food and other contraband in the little wastebasket at their bunk area, all the while bitterly complaining about how quickly this next shakedown occurred.  This time, however, our unit was first, and our aisle was first to be strip searched.  This time there were no red shirt trainees and the guards were clearly as annoyed as we were.  The walk to the multipurpose building (MPB) was much colder this time.  Another difference became evident pretty quick.  Both unit 9 and 10 were in the MPB at the same time which made it quite noisy and crowded.  We watched through windows and the nature of this search became evident.  At least 2 German Shepherds and Black Labs were on the grounds provided by whom I believe to be the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.  They are the first domestic animals I’ve seen in over 18 months.  I do miss my pets.  It was also pretty clear this search was going faster than last time.  I was as content as I could be.  I managed to get a computer to access the law library provided in the MPB so I researched various topics with no real purpose in mind.  About an hour and a half after the search began, 4 names were called out to come to the front.  They immediately assumed the position, got patted down and were handcuffed.  The assumption was illegal drugs were found by the dogs.  I don’t know that for a fact but its very possible.  Shortly thereafter we were told we could go back to our units.  Lt. Brodie was in front of Unit 9 telling us we had to stay in the building.  It seems the dogs weren’t done inspecting the grounds yet.  Unlike our last shakedown, very little had been disturbed in our bunk areas.  If last time was a hurricane, this time was just a shower.  Lt. Brodie came in our aisle, I swear he smiled at me and thanked us for our time and apologized for the inconvenience.  Let me say that again.  He thanked us for our time and apologized for the inconvenience!  The apocalypse is near I swear!  Unlike last time, normal operations resumed quite quickly.  Canteen won’t even be delayed.  But as 4pm arrived, a massive number of tickets were handed down for the shakedown from last week.  And just like that, there was something new to think about.